« PreviousContinue »
accompany us. The older women, who remembered the dreadful misery of war —the misery that presses its iron weight most heavily on the wives and the little ones—looked sadly at us; but the young girls drove down in bevies, arrayed in their finery, to wave flags in farewell to the troopers and to beg cartridges and buttons as mementos. Everywhere we saw the Stars and Stripes, and everywhere we were told, half-laughing, by grizzled ex-Confederates, that they had never dreamed in the bygone days of bitterness to greet the old flag as they now were greeting it, and to send their sons, as now they were sending them, to fight and die under it."
We have said much of the unreserved speech of President Roosevelt. What has he said, may be asked, that is not precisely to the point and unclouded, about matters of the same nature as are involved in the dining with a black gentleman question? He has done that in his capacity as Governor of New York, and his address is found in the volume of public papers of Governor Roosevelt for the year 1899. The occasion was the unveiling of the monument of Frederick Douglass, whose name is full of history, at Rochester, New York, June 10th, 1899. We present his address in full that there may be no glint of color absent from the color question.
Address at Unveiling of Frederick Douglass Monument,
"Mr. President: I am glad to have the honor of being here to-day. I am proud to be able to do my part in paying respect to the memory of a man who was a worthy representative of his race because he was a worthy representative of the American nation.
"Doubly proud I am to take part in a representative way in a demonstration in which so prominent a part is played by the old soldiers, who fought for four years for the freedom of that race to which Frederick Douglass belonged, and in order that there might be an undivided and indissoluble Union. Doubly proud am I, comrades of the last war, that you and I had the chance last summer to show that we were at least anxious to be not unworthy sons of those who fought in the great war.
"Here to-day, in sight of the monument of the great colored American, let us all strive to pay the respect due his memory by living in such a manner as to determine that a man shall be judged for what a man is, without regard to his color, race or creed, or aught else but his worth as a man. That lesson has a double side and I would dwell upon the one side just as I would on the other side.
"The worst enemy of the colored race is the colored man who commits some hideous wrong, especially if that be the worst of all crimes, rape; and the worst enemy of the white race is the man who avenges that crime by another crime, equally infamous.
"I would I could preach that doctrine, that it is best for each to know and realize, that all over this country, not merely in the South, but in the North as well, shameless deeds of infamous hideousness should be punished speedily; but by the law, not by another crime. I would preach to the colored man that the vicious and disorderly elements of his own race are the worst enemies of his race, and that he is in honor bound to war against them. I would preach to the white man that he who takes part in lawless acts, in such lynchings as we have recently known, is guilty not only of a crime against the colored race, but guilty of a crime against his own race, and against the whole nation.
"If it were in my power, I would feel that I could render service to my country such as I could render in no other way, by preaching that doctrine in its two sides to all who are in any degree responsible for the crimes by which our country has been disgraced in the past. It is for the interest of every man, black and white, to see that every criminal, black and white, is punished at once; but only under the law. Every scoundrel who commits rape or some similar infamy, and every body of men who usurp the province of the law, who usurp it by committing deeds which would make a red Indian blush with shame, prove that they are not only unworthy of citizenship in this country, but that they are the worst enemies this country contains.
"There is a great lesson taught by the life of Frederick Douglass, a lesson we can all of us learn; not merely from the standpoint of his relations with the colored race, but his relations with the State. The lesson that was taught by the colored statesman was the lesson of truth, honesty, and strong courage, of striving for the right; the lesson of disinterested and fearless performance of civic duty.
"I would appeal to every man in this great audience to take to heart the lesson taught by his life; to realize that he must strive to fulfill his duty as an individual citizen, if he wishes to see the State do its duty. The State is only the aggregate of the individual citizens.
"There is another thought that I want to preach to you, a lesson to be learned from the life of the colored statesman, Frederick Douglass; strive to do justice to all men, exact it for yourselves and do it to others.
"I want to draw an application of immediate consequence at this moment. The Legislature passed at its last session and placed on the statute books one of the most beneficial and righteous laws that this State has seen in recent years; a law declaring that corporations that derive the greater part of their profits from the franchises they enjoy shall bear a fair share of the burden of taxation. In putting that law on the statute books, we were animated by no vindictive spirit; we were neither for nor against corporations or private individuals. We acted not as a friend of the man of means nor his enemy; simply as the friend of all men who do their whole duty to the State.
"Since that law has been put on the statute books I have seen in the public press notices, in more than one form that efforts are to be made by trying to take technical advantage of some~provisions put in the law for the express purpose of seeing that no injustice was done to the corporations.
"Just think of it 1 Of the corporations striving to work the undoing of the law, seizing on the provision inserted for the protection of the corporations themselves. I do not think it possible that the law can be declared unconstitu-. tional on the grounds claimed, but I wish to emphasize the danger these men bring, not only to the State, but to the corporations they represent.
"I say this as one who deprecates class or social hostility; the franchise tax has come to stay. The corporations should make up their minds absolutely that if success attended the attempt to show the present law to be unconstitutional—a possibility I do not conceive—a more drastic law would be placed on the statute books. Let them learn that on the one side; and may you on the other side instruct your representatives, that they approach the subject in no spirit of vindictiveness, in no spirit of demagogy, but with a view to do equal justice to all men.
"I am glad Frederick Douglass has left behind him men of his race who can take up his mantle; that he has left such a man as Booker T. Washington, a man who is striving to teach his people to rise by toil to be better citizens; by resolute determination to make themselves worthy of American citizenship, until the whole country is forced to recognize their good citizenship.
"I am glad to have the chance to come here because I feel that all Americans should pay honor to Frederick Douglass. I am glad to be able to speak to so many men of his race and to impress on them, too, the lesson to be drawn from the life of such a man. I am more than glad to speak to an audience of Americans in the presence of a monument to the memory of Frederick Douglass, a man who possessed the eminent qualities of courage and disinterestedness in the service of his country; to appeal to you to demand those qualities in your public men that made Douglass great—qualities that resulted in the courageous performance of every duty, private and public."
This oration was delivered more than a year before the nomination of Theodore Roosevelt for the Vice-Presidency—a year and nine months before the latest Presidential election. In the oration of Roosevelt in the unveiling of the Rochester monument to Frederick Douglass, he introduces and honors the name of Booker T. Washington. Frederick Douglass said Abraham Lincoln was a man whose manner never contained a proclamation of recognition that he was a black man, and, therefore, one who offended propriety in being present in the White House or anywhere else. Not only did the Governor of New York, twenty-one months before he was elected in the several States by the electors of the States, and the vote counted by Congress, the two bodies in joint session witnesses, honor the memory of a great black man in his State; but he referred to the taxation of franchises, and as was said in complimenting another man, free and bold in his address, he "slammed his weighty words right at his hearers."
It would be an evasion not to say something on the color question, that to some extent has succeeded the slavery question, as it has been pressed upon the general attention and complaint in that connection made, that the war amendments of the Constitution are not enforced, and so held in abeyance by the construction that they nullify each other; that it would be well to abolish the XVth Amendment, for it has interfered with the XlVth Amendment, which itself would permit the States in which the racial question is paramount, to disfranchise a portion of the citizens, by consenting to the reduction of the apportionment of representatives and electors in Congress and the Electoral College. The idea behind this proposal is that it is most desirable the Nation should not have a constitutional nullification, inflicting a cureless wound; and if the States with a very considerable proportion of men of color should favor a qualified suffrage, they could do so by abandoning the strength in national affairs, gained by the irregular disfranchisement managed indirectly; but that is another question, and perhaps both North and South would think the remedy for the nullification of the Constitution by the dominant class worse than the evil, and, therefore, no cure.
ROOSEVELT IN THE WHITE HOUSE.
"Strenuous Life" There—First Night in President's Home—Dignity Need Not be Tedious—Quickened Foot-Steps—The Functions of Luncheon—Busy Day—Horseback Ride—The President upon a Gallop—New Year's Reception—Play of the Children Pleases All.
THE manner of the life of President Roosevelt at the White House excites much interest. He has changed habits as constrained by the pressure of cares of office, and these affect him less than would be assumed by the unacquainted. Under all conditions, he is systematic as active. He must have his regular hours, his walks and rides, time to himself, and change of occupation. That which he does is according to his custom, but attracts more attention than formerly, for he differs from other Presidents more in ways than years.
The presence of young children in the White House is a new and attractive feature. They "move" with vivacity, and there are none who molest them or make them afraid. The stir of young life they make is pleasing to all, with possibly the exception of those whose business is to seek the appointing power and run upon, not a barbed iron fence, but an iron wall—so stalwart and stern if beaten against by impatient irritation that it has the effect of calming the obtrusive and loquacious, who have strong opinions about Booker Washington, and the Civil Service reform classifications, and any impediment to soft and speedy acquiescence in the personal request of the functionaries.
Booker Washington himself, has in one respect, a close sympathy with the President. The objective point of the distinguished colored leader of his people, is not to find office for them. Mr. Washington is not an office-seeker. He has a great many kinds of good sense, and thinks the men of his race who are demanding places they are not fitted to fill, should be treated exactly like the white folks should be; that is, refused the offices they are not fit for, no matter how threatening th)ey may be as to turning up in the Republican Conventions hereafter, where resolutions are passed and perhaps nominations made. Mr. Washington believes the cause of the colored people will not be helped, but impeded, by vehement politicians pushing claims on account of color. [Tjhfi